Take a day off togetherBeatrice and Mario Franco of Euless, Texas, each work about 40 hours a week. By the time they get home at 6:30 p.m., they have only a couple of hours to spend with their children, Brittney, 6, and Aleesa, 14 months, before their kids' bedtime -- and their own soon after.
To buy themselves some quality adults-only time, the Francos schedule a joint vacation day once a month. They take their kids to school and daycare just like normal, and then go out for a nice breakfast: "You know, where you can actually eat your food while it's still hot," Beatrice jokes. Then they hang out -- taking a nap or a walk in the mall or doing whatever they want during the rest of their vacation day.
They don't tell family, friends, or anyone else who might disturb their free time that they're at home. And then they end the day by picking up their kids as if they had just gotten off work.
Make it work for you
If you're saving up your vacation days for that summer trip to Disney World, get yourselves some time by dialing Grandma (or auntie or best girlfriend) and procure the (free) services of the one person who'll actually love helping out while you two steal away.
Grandma not available? Swap sitting with a neighbor. Or check out other low-cost alternatives. Peggy Wolff and her husband, Tom, of Burnsville, Minnesota, joined their local YMCA -- which has free childcare for members -- and started working out there together while their four kids stay in the supervised play area.
If your child is young enough, you could even take a scenic car ride -- what little one can keep his eyes open during a relaxing ride? -- and talk while you enjoy the view. The point is to eliminate the stress level that comes with kid drama by, well, getting rid of the kids for a while.